Senior citizens living with HIV, NCDs and without familial support were some of the issues raised by Dr Sharra Greenaway-Duberry, who handles care for the elderly on island.
The physician was speaking at a one-day workshop to review the draft of a National Policy for the Care of Older Persons on Thursday, February 2, 2017 at the Montserrat Cultural Centre.
Dr Greenaway is responsible for the medical needs of the elderly at the Golden Years Home and Margetson Memorial Home. She shared that while the Margetson home is built to accommodate up to 48 residents it currently only handles 22 high dependency residents. This is due to deficiencies in the staffing and equipment.
The home caters to elderly who need round the clock assistance from drinking water, swatting a fly to bathing and going outside. She explained that the centre needed more geriatric aides, a job that is not attractive to most as salaries start at EC$ 1561 to 1788 per month.
They are also severely lacking in wheelchairs to manage the 22 residents in house. The home also needs beds. Most, the doctor said are not suitable for highly dependent patients, as they cannot be raised or lowered. This, the doctor said, made it hard for aides bathing, turning and lifting them.
Bernadine Collins who manages an NGO which caters to the elderly said there is a need to attract younger people to geriatric care and the salaries must be improved to do this.
Dr Greenaway also noted that current staff, herself included need to access regular training to stay up on developments in the field.
Montserrat’s oldest citizen is 108 years old. The doctor noted that as patients age they are often managing multiple illnesses at the same time. These include complications from diabetes, hypertension, psychiatric disorders such as dementia and schizophrenia, blindness, arthritis, HIV and Syphillis.
The doctor said care for the elderly requires a multi-disciplinary team to handle the myriad of conditions, which is currently lacking.